Last night I was watching an episode of Danny Baker’s Great Album Showdown on BBC4, when I realised that my mind had wandered – not because of the quality of the show, which I found fascinating, but because it had locked on to a thought which was expanding and my mind couldn’t shake it off.
It was sparked by Danny Baker waxing lyrical on the plusses of the physical LP record over the ethereal nothingness of
downloading music – this isn’t a new thought to me as, despite being born several years after Billy Joels ‘52nd Street’ started the mass marketing move to CD, I have a modest vinyl collection and still prefer CDs to downloading.
But I suddenly found myself becoming nostalgic for an era I never experienced.
The joy and emotion was
palpable in Danny Baker’s voice as he described the commitment required to find a new record – taking the bus to the record store, searching for a new LP to transport home, placing it on the turntable and even reading the record sleeve right down to the last word as this new music played. I got an image of an almost ritualistic process of discovery which positively oozes with anticipation.
When I compared this with the current method of, when learning of a new band, searching Youtube and immediately finding the music, I was left feeling slightly empty.
And if you think I’m only talking about music then you’ve missed the point.
By demanding instant gratification in life – be it discovering a new record, finding out the latest global news, developing a skill through a quick and easy downloadable package – we are missing out on a huge part of the process and excitement of discovery.
Since way back when our ancestors descended from the trees, discoveries have been made through commitment, dedication of time and the physical touch – our knowledge of fire, the shaping of tools, the creation of Art, the list goes on.
So as Danny Baker laments the loss of the anticipation and dedication required to discover a new record, I realised my mind was expanding his thought beyond music. I came to the realisation that the increasing irrelevance of the physical is diluting the emotion in all aspects of life.
Discovery no longer requires commitment; it’s just a click away. By taking this dedication away, are we in danger of becoming a stagnant race?